Xeriscaping the Forest at the Edge of my Yard (a green and healthy obsession)

My neighbor stopped in front of my yard where we were moving rocks and mulch, and asked, “So where will the hotpots go? And the mud volcanoes?”

forest at the edge of my yard

I scratched my chin. “Haven’t figured that one out yet. But for Halloween I think I’ll put some dry ice and hot water out here.”

My husband stared at me, worried that the conversion of our front yard really isn’t about xeriscaping or conserving water, but that I really am so obsessed with “forests” and “edges” that I’m creating it in our very yard.

Only slightly. Maybe.

side view of forest

Our front yard used to be all grass with aspens, a couple pines, and rocks with fossils we picked up in the canyons. But my husband and I have always loved forests, so began the full transformation to creating a forest floor which requires no mowers.

yard in progress

For the several weeks that it took us to complete the project, neighbors would wonder what in the world we were up to. (“You’re killing your grass? On purpose?!”)

All in the name of xeriscaping, mind you. (Not “zeroscaping,” by the way.) We live in the second driest state of the country, after all, and watering so much grass is irresponsible, we thought. So we installed a drip feed system (not entirely xeriscaping, I realize, but certainly reducing the amount of water we use). The system feeds our trees and a few perennials such as shasta daisies, black-eyed susans, and vinca, which will look amazing next year.


(Look at the fossils in those rocks. And we just picked them up in the canyon behind our house. We live in an awesome area!)

We let the rest of the grass die (yes, on purpose), and covered it with a couple layers of cardboard that my husband retrieved from his old workplace.


The cardboard keeps down the weeds and retains moisture. And makes people wonder if there are any cats buried under that Tidy Cats box. (No, that was at our last house.)

We live in a rocky area, so instead of fighting the rocks, we decided to incorporate them to help hold down the cardboard, set off the aspens and their little “volunteers,” and to keep the drip-feed system contained.


(At the correct angle, these look like house-size boulders, don’t they?)

Then we covered it all with several inches of mulch. Fortunately our dump provides a full yard of mulch for less than $10. Yep, that load below cost less than $10. We used about five of these for the whole front third of our yard.

3 year old and mulch

(Meet my three-year-old, Mr. Ham-and-Cheese.)

Our kids helped, albeit at times reluctantly, to shovel and rake out the mulch (taking an entire 20 minutes to empty each load). Whenever they quietly grumbled, we reminded them that they no longer had to mow around the trees, which was becoming quite the annoying endeavor each week.

grass cardboard mulch

The mulch is 4-6 inches thick, and has that lovely cushiony feel like a real forest floor.

After a few weeks we finally finished. We plan to add a few more logs and another dwarf pine or two, but for now, I have my own little forest! (Yes, I’m fully aware a trickling river would be amazing through here, but that’s not in the budget this decade.)

logs in forest

(We need more logs. My husband’s planning next year’s vacation to the northern California coast primarily to pick up salt-treated driftwood.)

Another friend suggested I place a miniature wooden fort in the middle of this. (Her kids had actually made Fort Shin out of Lego bricks last year.)

And maybe a sign that says, “Welcome to Edge.” (Oh, yes–I want one!)

My husband keeps shaking his head at the suggestions. It’s all about xeriscaping, right? Right?!

hostas in mulch

No more weeding around the bishop’s weed and hostas.

Next year, we plan to do the parking strip. Dear Hubby was surprised to hear I was on board with converting a lot of it to rock and taking out the sprinkler system. I wonder what his reaction will be when he discovers I made some miniature buildings out of cement block, and put up a little sign that says, “Welcome to Idumea.”

forest in background

2 thoughts on “Xeriscaping the Forest at the Edge of my Yard (a green and healthy obsession)

  1. I know of many different native, lovely wild plants that can help!

    Like: Ephedra, Snakeweed, rhus trilobata, sagebrush


    • I don’t know who you are, crazy woman, but when you come up you can see the yard. Make a list for Dad and me for the parking strip for next year.


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